I love parsnips and I am always surprised when friends says they either never buy them or don't like them.
The parsnip, like the carrot, fennel, parsley and chervil, is a member of the umbelliferae family. It looks rather like a creamy white carrot. Wild parsnips are thought to have originated in the Mediterranean area and they were first cultivated by the Romans and improved on in the Middle Ages to the sweeter flavor that we know today. Until the potato was introduced to Europe the parsnip was a popular staple food.
Nutritionally parsnips are a very good source of potassium and dietary fiber. They are also contain vitamins B1, B2, B3, and C, iron, zinc, manganese, beta carotene, carbohydrates and protein. They are high in sodium.
Healthwise a half a cup of boiled parsnips contains only 55 calories and with the dietary fiber makes it an excellent vegetable food for low calorie diets. The potassium they contain makes it excellent for people with high blood pressure. Being a low caloried , carbohydrate food they are also excellent for athletes. Being mildly diuretic, parsnips can be helpful to flush toxins from the body when having bladder or kidney problems.
The sweetest parsnips are those either maturing in the ground during the frost or those refrigerated for a week or two by the farmers after harvesting. This turns much of the starch into sugar. As with carrots, when purchasing parsnips it is preferable purchase them medium sized, firm and smooth skinned. To store , remove the leaves and place in a criper or plastic bag with a few punched holes and place in the fridge where they will stay fresh for weeks.
Parsnips are a great stand in for potatoes or other starchy foods. They can be served raw, steamed, boiled, braised, or roasted. When making soups and stews with parsnips add them near the end of cooking time so they do not become mushy. They are also used to make parsnip, beer and marmalade. Always peel if not organic. Peeled or cut parsnips turn brown quickly, so either cook them right away or put in a bowl of water with a bit of lemon juice added until cooking.
And to end. If you have a pet pig or visit farm animal sanctuaries you will find that pigs often prefer parsnips to carrots.
Parsnip Curry Soup
This soup may be made in either a microwave oven or in a pot on a stovetop.
1-1/2 lb. parsnips
4 cups vegetable stock
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 tsp ginger, ground
1 tbsp curry powder (favorite blend)
1/2 cup rolled oats
Preheat vegetable stock. Peel, rinse, and chop the parsnips into small pieces. Wash and chop the celery stalks. Add parsnip and celery pieces to soup pot. Add the ginger and curry powder. Cook until parsnips and celery begin to soften, then add the rolled oats and stir. When parsnip and celery pieces are tender, puree part of the soup in a blender, add back to soup pot and reheat. Or, if desired, puree all the soup, a few cups at a time, and reheat. (To enlarge the photo of the parsnip curry soup prior to pureeing in the blender. Serve and enjoy
Parsnip and Split-Pea Bake
contributed by Mike Lewis
This nutritious combination of vegetables and split peas makes a warming and substantial dish, ideal for cold winter evenings. Served with potatoes or rice, the quantities given here will make three to four portions.
1 cup dry split peas
Water for boiling
2 large parsnips
2 large carrots
1 large onion
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Several broccoli florets
6 - 8 mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 cup water or vegetable stock
2 tsp miso
1 tbsp tomato purée
Salt and pepper to taste
Oven: Pre-heat to 375F (190C)Start by boiling the split peas in water for at least an hour. Boil vigorously for the first ten minutes, then simmer gently. Drain and rinse. While the split peas are cooking, peel the parsnips, carrots and onions, and cut into thick slices. Place them in a baking pan with the oil, and roast for about 30 minutes or until the parsnips are just tender. Place the roasted vegetables and drained split peas into an oven-proof dish, along with the broccoli and mushrooms. Cover with water or stock. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook in the oven for a further 30 - 40 minutes. If it gets too dry, add extra water.
Butternut, Parsnip and Potato Cakes
from The Vegan Chef
4 cups butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and grated
4 cups red skin potatoes, well scrubbed, and grated
2 cups parsnips, peeled, and grated
1 cup shallot, grated
2 tsp salt, divided
1/3 cup unbleached flour
2 tbsps freshly snipped chives
2 tbsps freshly chopped parsley
2 tbsps water
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp white pepper
safflower oil for frying
Garnishes: tofu sour cream, applesauce, maple syrup
In a colander, toss together the grated butternut, red skin potatoes, parsnips, shallots, and 1 t. salt, and place the colander over a large bowl to drain for 15 minutes. Squeeze the grated vegetables with your fingers to help remove any excess moisture in the vegetables. Drain off the watery liquid from the vegetables but reserve the starch from the vegetables that has settled to the bottom of the bowl. Add the grated vegetables to the vegetable starch, along with the remaining ingredients, toss well to combine, and set aside for 5 minutes. Cover the bottom of a large non-stick skillet with safflower oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, using a 1/4 cups measuring cup, drop 4 portions into the skillet, and flatten them slightly with the back of a spatula to ensure even cooking. Cook the pancakes over medium heat for 3-4 minutes
per side or until golden brown. Carefully flip over the vegetable pancakes and cook an additional 3 minutes or until golden brown on the other side. Transfer the browned vegetable pancakes to a cookie sheet and place them in a 200 degree oven to keep them warm while cooking the remainder of the vegetable pancakes. Serve them with your choice of tofu sour cream,
applesauce, or maple syrup. Makes 24.
Parsnip and Celery Pilaf
Toni Gifford at RecipeZAAR
A quick and easy side dish.
1 tbsp olive oil
1-1/2 cups parsnips, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup celery, sliced
1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup onions, diced
1-1/2 cups uncooked instant brown rice
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp kosher salt (if you use boullion instead of broth, consider omitting)
3/8-1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 cups vegetable broth
4 tbsps diced water chestnuts, toasted or 3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add parsnip, celery and onions, and cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not let the vegetables brown. Add rice and the next 5 ingredients (rice through broth), and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. (Consult the package of your brown rice for exact cooking time. Optional - If you are using almonds, you can quickly toasting them on the stove in an untreated non-skillet. Stir in water chestnuts or almonds. 6 servings
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